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US concerned about Venezuela's arrest of activist and her family

Press briefing at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON/CARACAS (Reuters) -The United States is "deeply concerned" by reports that human rights activist Rocio San Miguel and members of her family have been arrested in Venezuela, the White House said on Tuesday.

San Miguel is president of the non-governmental organization Control Ciudadano, which advocates for citizen oversight of Venezuela's armed forces. She was arrested this week on charges of involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro.

"We are watching this very, very closely," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, urging Maduro to meet commitments his government made in a deal with the political opposition to hold elections this year.

"Mr. Maduro needs to meet the commitments that he made back in the fall about how they are going to treat civil society, political activists, as well as opposition parties," Kirby said.

Venezuela's attorney general, Tarek Saab, said on Sunday that San Miguel had been arrested for alleged links to "the conspiracy plot and attempted assassination ... aimed at attacking the life of Head of State Nicolas Maduro and other high-ranking officials."

Saab's office said late on Monday that San Miguel had been charged with treason, conspiracy and terrorism and that he had requested she be held pending trial.

One of her relatives was charged with revealing state and military secrets, as well as other crimes, and his detention has also been requested. Four other relatives should be kept under surveillance and have their movements limited while they are investigated, Saab said on X.

San Miguel's legal team said in a statement on her social media on Tuesday that it is trying to get information about her arraignment and that she had no trusted lawyers with her at the hearing.

Her team has not been able to communicate with San Miguel or her family, it added, calling her a "forced disappearance."

Calling for her immediate release and right to legal defense, the United Nations' human rights office also referred to San Miguel as a potential enforced disappearance.

Maduro's election deal with the opposition led the U.S. to temporarily ease oil sanctions, but Washington began reimposing sanctions last month after Venezuela's top court upheld a ban blocking the candidacy of the leading opposition presidential hopeful.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Mayela Armas, additional reporting by Gabriel Araujo; editing by Rami Ayyub and Marguerita Choy)